Should I Self Represent?

We get it - representing yourself through your divorce can seem daunting. The purpose of this post is to alleviate some of the fears you may have and help you decide if self representation is right for you. This is part two of a three part series on how to self represent through your divorce.

Does it make sense for me? 

The most common concern that people have when deciding if they can self represent is that they cannot properly understand the process. They feel the legal process is too confusing and that to get a “fair divorce”, you need to hire a lawyer. However, there are lots of great resources available online that provide a wealth of information about the divorce process (have you heard of Thistoo?).

These resources can point you in the right direction and give you a better understanding of what the process looks likes. Some free tools can even guide you through some of the difficult decisions that divorce requires you to make, like how to divide assets or calculate child support payments.

Representing yourself throughout the divorce process has never been easier. Technology is enabling more and more people to take control of their divorce, and avoid costly negotiations or court battles where important decisions are made by the cunning of your lawyer or the whimsy of a judge.

Do I have enough free time?

The next most common concern is that you don’t have enough time to do it all yourself. Whether you choose to use a lawyer or not, you will still be required to assemble all your documents, provide important information, and fill in all the applicable forms yourself. Lawyers can provide great value for time when you have an exceptionally complex case or an uncooperative spouse. However, in reality, the vast majority of cases are so straightforward that you will do the same amount of work whether you self represent or not.

Will I get a fair deal?

Many of our clients also fear that they will be taken advantage of as a result of their unfamiliarity with the legal process of divorce. In reality, though, the Canadian government has set out guidelines for everything from spousal support to child support to the division of assets. While you are free to deviate from these guidelines (with the exception of child support), if you adhere strictly to the guidelines you will receive no more and no less than you would receive should you decide to litigate.

As discussed in our previous post, many divorcees end up fighting over money and assets when, in reality, there is nothing substantive to fight over. They hire lawyers and mediators when the rules for asset division and support are clearly defined by the law. In our next post we will detail some tips for self representing along with highlighting the benefits of self representation.

We have mapped out the process so you can follow an easy step-by-step guide. Our mission is to simplify the divorce process, so you can focus on what really matters to you.

Negotiating a separation agreement will be difficult, but it will almost certainly be less difficult than going through a trial in court.

Negotiating a separation agreement will be difficult, but it will almost certainly be less difficult than going through a trial in court.

What is my spouse planning?

If you do choose to self represent it is important to understand what your soon-to-be-Ex is planning on doing. If you both plan on self representing, you can both use Thistoo to simplify the process. If your soon-to-be-Ex plans on hiring a lawyer, then there is nothing preventing you from self representing.

Your biggest concern should be keeping dialogue and negotiation civil. In divorce, cool heads prevail and those divorcees that are able to stay civil throughout the negotiation process save themselves a lot of money, time, and stress. If you don’t think you are able to keep dialogue relatively civil, you may need to consider getting a mediator. A mediator is capable of helping negotiate in as civil a manner as possible.

Mediators typically operate in the absence of a lawyer and are usually able to resolve your situation, in a single day, regardless of complexity. If you think mediation is something you would be interested in please contact us and we would be happy to recommend a trusted mediator.

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